Words: Will Stroude; Image: Baillie Walsh
ABBA stunned the world on Thursday evening (2 September) as the legendary pop group released their first new music in 40 years and announced a brand new album, Voyage, and state-of-the-art virtual concert series in London.
The Swedish pop group, whose last album, The Visitors, was released in 1981, unveiled two new tracks, ‘I Still Have Faith In You’ and ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’, as they revealed that their ninth studio album consisting of 10 original songs will arrive on 5 November.
The reunion record will be accompanied by groundbreaking concert series that will see members Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad - now all in their seventies - perform digitally with a live 10-piece band, in a purpose-built arena in London from 27 May 2022.
Speaking to Zoe Ball at the ABBA Voyage launch event in London on Thursday, Benny and Björn confirmed that the concert would include 22 tracks over the course of a 90-minute show.
"[It's] sort of a greatest hits I would say..." confirmed Benny, 74. "'Dancing queen is going to be in there!"
The ABBA Voyage concert production saw all four members of the group spend five weeks perfoming the show in full in front of 160 cameras, with the footage used to create groundbreaking digital avatars of the band.
"We have really infused ourselves into these avatars in so many ways," explained Björn, 76.
The music video for ABBA's new single ‘I Still Have Faith In You’ gives fans a glimpse of the avatars in action and revists archive footage from the band's '70s and '80s hey-day.
As well as releasing the audio for another track from Voyage, ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’ Benny and Björn also confirmed a third track from the record, 'Little Things', which the pair teased serves as a Christmas track.
“There’s an old saying in the music industry - you should not leave 40 years between albums,” quipped Björn during Thursday's live announcement.
Of finding their way back to the recordning studio as a foursome for the first time in four decades, Benny added: “It was like no time had passed”.
The famously media-shy Agnetha, 71, and Anni-Frid, 75, were not in attendance at Thursday's announcement event at London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, but their bandmates were full of praise for the magic ABBA's female vocal duo managed to recreate in the studio during recording of Voyage.
"It’s a privilege to hear them sing your music and words", said Björn.
ABBA, who are estimated to have sold between 150 million and 385 million worldwide, shot to global fame after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 and are best-known for hits including 'The Winner Takes It All', 'Take a Chance On Me' and 'Thank You For the Music.'
The group split in 1982, but the group's music has remained ubiquitous ever since, spawning a hit Broadway and West End musical, Mamma Mia!, which itself was adapted into a hit 2008 movie starring Meryl Streep. A sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, was released in 2018.
Tickets for ABBA Voyage are available from 10am BST on Sunday 5 September for fans who have pre-ordered the album from the official ABBA store, and from 10am BST Monday 6 September for those who have pre-registered.